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Chronic fatigue sufferers getting the wrong treatment—thanks to a falsified study
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are not getting the proper treatment. The standard approach these days is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)—known as the ‘talking therapy’, which implies the problem is mainly in the sufferer’s head—but this is based on a landmark study whose results were falsified, it has been revealed this week.

The PACE study had concluded in 2011 that 61 per cent of sufferers were getting well on CBT and exercise—but the numbers who really benefited had been inflated three-fold by researchers.

The PACE researchers were forced to reveal the study data following a freedom of information request from CFS sufferers. The request went to appeal after the research team, based at the Queen Mary University of London, had refused to accept the first ruling, and spent £200,000 on legal fees to fight the demand.

Independent researchers who have assessed the data have discovered that the researchers had inflated the benefits of CBT and graded exercise, results that changed the course of treatment for CFS and which implied that the problem was chiefly in the mind.

Dr David Tuller of the University of California at Berkeley, who has been following the PACE study, said that the data “proves that the researchers have been hiding the real story all along.”

The PACE trial had been funded by UK taxpayers through the Medical Research Council, the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions.

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